Egypt in Hollywood
A blog about the pros and cons of antiquity films

Apr
25
Scorpion King (2002)

Scorpion King (2002)

The Scorpion King (2002) is a movie that is closer to the truth than the previous two. The movie is based on a true King of Egypt, King Scorpion who ruled during Dynasty Zero after the Naqada period; however, the storyline goes into an action movie shortly after the introduction. While King Scorpion would have been a strong and powerful man it is not likely that he alone could have conquered both Upper and Lower Egypt.

According to history, King Narmar (Dynasty Zero) who ruled Egypt after King Scorpion is accredited to uniting the two kingdoms, however there is proof on the mace of King Scorpion that demonstrates the Nomes hanging in defeat as King Scorpion digs irrigation ditches to help his people.

Scorpion King Mace-head

Scorpion King Mace-head

Another misunderstanding is the villain in the movie, Memnon, who was a real king, but would have been living in the New Kingdom (1570-1070) not at the beginning of Dynasty 0 (3150-3050 B.C.). The Scorpion King elaborates on the time and presents a fairy-tale story with “The Rock” as the conquering hero. The movie has very few factual elements, and is meant to attract attention through the amazing action scenes and heroic tale.

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Apr
24

There is a big difference between movies that should be taken seriously and movies that should simply be viewed as entertainment. In The Mummy (1932 & 1999) and The Mummy Returns (2001), there are more false depictions than there are true. The entire plot of these two movies cannot be taken seriously; a mummy who comes back to life as a cursed being, with the goal of resurrecting his love and taking control over the world. First, the obvious, Ancient Egyptians could not resurrect someone and mummies cannot come back to life. In addition, a person cannot be mummified alive, the process would kill the person immediately. After removing the internal organs and the brain there is no way a person could then be wrapped and buried alive.

The Mummy (1999)

The Mummy (1999)

The Mummy (1999) then continues by falsely identifying Imhotep as the Ramses’ priest and lover to the Pharaoh’s mistress. Imhotep was the great priest of Djoser who created the concept for the Step Pyramid. He was a great man of architecture and medicine who was later combined with the Greek God of medicine, Asclepius, and even to Jesus Christ.

His name, Imhotep, even means “one who comes in peace,” which is far from the movie’s depiction. The movie also introduces the Book of the Dead (gives life) and the Book of the Living (takes life away). The real book of the dead did in a way give life, but only in the afterlife. It was a guide to the underworld that would lead your soul safely through the twelve gates. The movie depicts the two books as normal books with a cover, binding, and turning pages, similar to what you see today. This is a huge fabrication. In Ancient Egypt, books were not even invented; Egyptians were used scrolls and would not have been turning the pages of a modern-day book.

The Mummy Returns (2001)

The Mummy Returns (2001)

While both The Mummy and The Mummy Returns offer false action packed entertainment, they do hold a small amount of truth. The movies use hieroglyphs in a reasonably realistic way, and they mention historical events and details throughout the films; however, they are overpowered by the legends and science fiction.

Apr
24

Everyone has their opinion…so what’s yours?

Apr
24

Are there any consequences to adding extra action, horror, and drama to movies. Of course there are consequences, but the two big ones are fear and misinterpretation. With such scary themes, younger generations may get the idea that mummies can come back to life, scarabs will crawl under their skin, and aliens will use their bodies as hosts. These ideas can produce nightmares and irrational fears in young adults.

Scene from The Mummy, 1999

Scene from The Mummy, 1999

The second consequence is misinterpretation. By adding little “extras,” facts are changed and leaving a lot of room to misunderstand history. For example, some of the recent movies to portray Egypt suggest that Imhotep was an evil priest who could not keep his hands off the pharaoh’s mistress, aliens are real and possibly on Earth, Cleopatra was a whore who had romantic relations with any man who could help her rise to a higher power, and other cultures are barbaric and uncivilized.

Apr
24

Hollywood has created many movies that offer various interpretations and ideas. Some of the movies follow history with some accuracy, while others are pure fantasy. So what makes a movie good or bad? The historical facts, action, drama, the actors, visual effects, or a combination? Everyone has their own opinion, and the same goes for movies of antiquity. The view that Hollywood creates has many false accusations and twisted historical facts, but by twisting facts and creating amazing scenes, Hollywood creates interest. If Americans want to see the true history behind the movies, they could watch the Discovery or History channels. Movies of antiquity are not meant to be depicters of truth, but more of a gateway into a world of unknown cultures, languages religions, and time. However, “despite the importance, innovation, and influence of these films, there are viewers who despise the entire genre. They cringe at the belabored historicity as well as the in-authenticities, the costumes, the pageantry, the grandeur, the maxims, the portrayals of religious icons, and the relative lack of psychological relevance for the modern world, not to mention the three- or four-hour running times” (Solomon 33).

So why are movies of antiquity still produced? Supply and demand. Hollywood is still around to produce these false entertaining stories because there is a demand for them. According to James Jaegar, in 2001, Hollywood spent about $87.5 million dollars on movie production and marketing. In order for Hollywood to be able to produce movies like The Mummy, The Mummy Returns, The Scorpion King, Cleopatra, Stargate, and even animated movies such as The Prince of Egypt, the movies must receive profits that cover the movie production costs and the costs of actors, directors, and staff, and that’s exactly what happens. In 2001, Hollywood made profits that surpassed $15 billion dollars (Jeager). That is more than enough incentive to continue producing action packed movies.

Hollywood Sign

Hollywood Sign

Apr
22
Special Edition DVD Cover

Director's Cut DVD Cover

Stargate (the movie) was released in 1994. The sci-fi thriller was based on the ideas of alien conspiracies and travel through wormholes to other inhabitable planets. In 1997 Stargate SG-1 started what would be a long and prosperous journey into the mythology of ancient Egypt.

Over ten seasons and 200 episodes of Stargate SG-1 have woven the Earth mythology into the plots, visuals, and themes.  The main mythology of the film and series is Egyptian, but the show also incorporates Norse and Celtic mythology.

Stargate does an excellent job of portraying the mythology. The writers cleverly present common stories and folklore that we have heard throughout our lifetime  but with a sci-fi twist.

Stargate SG-1 Cast

Stargate SG-1 Cast

Apr
22
Movie Box Mix

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Apr
21

The idea of entertainment and glitz defines Hollywood. Hollywood is the ultimate fantasy world; a world of tall-tales, romance, and action. Hollywood’s job is simply to provide entertainment. Having said this, it is obvious that it would be near to impossible to create an entertaining movie using just the facts.

“Some four hundred feature films set in the ancient world have made familiar to many hundreds of millions of modern people an alluring, historical world well-marbled with graceful columns, gently folded togas, wine-filled goblets, racing chariots, divinely inspired prophets, golden idols of pagan gods, Christian-devouring lions, scantily clad slave girls, and brawny heroes” (Solomon 4).

While some elements within movies depicting Ancient Egypt are fabricated with action and excessive drama scenes, some depict real events. Conflict is necessary in every story. Without conflict, there would be no story, and since violence has become so popular within the American society, what sells, goes. Hollywood presents a skewed vision of Egypt, but it still presents a vision that otherwise would never be seen by average Americans. Hollywood presents an opportunity that allows new generations to become interested in ancient cultures.